Black History Month: Week Two

“I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time being ashamed.”
— Ralph Ellison

February 8 – Figure skater Debi Thomas became the first African American to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition, was a pre-med student at Stanford University in 1986.

February 9 – In 1979, Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Leroy “Satchel” Paige would be inducted.

February 10 – 1964, After 10 days of debate and voting on 125 amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 290-130. The bill prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It further gave the U.S. Attorney General the power to bring school desegregation law suits.

February 11 – today in 1996, Penn’s Baccalaureate Speaker was the Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris, a Philadelphian who was the first woman ever to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

February 12 – Birthday of William Felton Russell, better known as “Bill” Russel, he was player-coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team in 1968 and 1969. Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1934.

February 13 – The first Black professional basketball team “The Renaissance” organized 1923.

February 14 – today in 1936, National Negro Congress organized at Chicago meeting attended by 817 delegates representing more than 500 organizations. Asa Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was elected president of the new organization.

Source:  http://www.floridablackhistory.com/facts.cfm

Satchel Paige: "I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain't never been seen by this generation."

Stupid Douche of the Week: John Mayer

"D'oh! I'm such a douche!"

I hope…I really truly and sincerely hope John Mayer was high or drunk on his ass when he gave this interview to Playboy.

Because if he’s sober and serious, he’s got a beatdown of Michael Richards proportions coming his way.   Mr. Mayer, this is your Elvis Costello moment.

PLAYBOY: If you didn’t know you, would you think you’re a douche bag?

MAYER: It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.

PLAYBOY: Because you’re very?

MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”

PLAYBOY: It is true; a lot of rappers love you. You recorded with Common and Kanye West, played live with Jay-Z.

MAYER: What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.

PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?

MAYER: I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.

PLAYBOY: Let’s put some names out there. Let’s get specific.

MAYER: I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” That’s what “Heartbreak Warfare” is all about, when a girl uses jealousy as a tactic.

John Mayer is a superstud. Just ask him.

I don’t care even a little bit who John Mayer bangs. That’s just indicative of the lousy taste Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson have in men if they let this little weenie bang them.  I just can’t stand these hipster White guys who think because they have a little juice with Black people that gives them a free pass to say whatever ignorant, racist, sexist and stupid shit that comes out their mouth.

Who gives a damn if he thinks Jessica Simpson was “sexual napalm” and he tagged Jennifer Aniston?  He’s still a smug, overpraised, overpaid and undertalented punk.

What’s the over/under for how long it takes Mayer to pull his foot out of his mouth and issue some half-assed public “apology?” I give him two days max.

UPDATE:  I should have taken the under.   Mayer took to his Twitter account to tweet an apology.
“Re: using the ‘N word’ in an interview: I am sorry that I used the word. And it’s such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it, because I realize that there’s no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged.”

“And while I’m using today for looking at myself under harsh light, I think it’s time to stop trying to be so raw in interviews…It started as an attempt to not let the waves of criticism get to me, but it’s gotten out of hand and I’ve created somewhat of a monster. I wanted to be a blues guitar player. And a singer. And a songwriter. Not a shock jock. I don’t have the stomach for it. Again, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m equivocating: I should have never said the word and I will never say it again.”

I notice Mr. Mayer didn’t apologize to Miss Simpson and Miss Aniston for putting their business out in the street or suggesting Kerry Washington provide him with oral favors.

You just don’t see this kind of dickery taken to such a high level. Or is that a new low?

Being a dope who won’t shut up about his sexual conquests is one thing.  Being a sorry, half-ass rock n’ roller is another.  But for John Mayer, a guy who’s as white as a jar of Miracle Whip to say he wants to be a “blues guitar player”  offends me on such a fundamental level I’d like to take his guitar and shove it sideways someplace real painful.

John Mayer the blues guitar player?  More like John Mayer the sexist, racist douchebag.

Hood pass: REVOKED.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Care.

Service, not Silence.

Lt. Dan Choi drilled this weekend with his National Guard unit.  Nothing remarkable about a soldier serving with his unit.  Happens all the time.  What makes Choi special is he became an activist for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT),” the 17-year-old policy which has led to the forced separation of over 13,000 soldiers.

President Obama called for the repeal of DADT during his State of the Union address and Secretary of the Defense Robert Gates testified in Congressional hearings that it was time for the policy to be ended and homosexuals be allowed to serve in the armed forces.

As if they haven’t already?

In my own military service I recall two guys who got caught screwing each other and the military police marching them out of the barracks.  I never found out what happened to them but I had a pretty good guess.   They probably got grilled by the base commander for information on other homosexuals lurking among us, given a general, administrative or bad conduct discharge and booted out with no possibility of collecting any G.I. Bill benefits no matter how good of a job they did before they got caught.

Everyone that has served in the military has served with gay men and women. You went through basic training with them. You ate with them. You slept in the same barracks with them. You showered, shit and shaved with them. You pounded beers with them and bummed smokes off of them. You told your bad homo jokes and they laughed at them even when they didn’t want to.

A flamboyant heterosexual who’s grabbing every woman’s ass within reach and bragging about how much pussy he gets and chicks he’s banged, bugs me just as much as a flamboyant homosexual.  Maybe more.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) wrote an essay on The Huffington Post calling DADT a “discriminatory” policy that needs to be ended.

“… more than 400 service members were discharged from our armed services last year for no reason other than their sexual orientation. As we fight in two wars, it’s counter-productive, dangerous, and expensive to discharge men and women who have critical skills we need to win those wars, just because they’re gay,”  Udall said.

Gay men like Lt. Dan Choi volunteered to serve their country and if necessary, lay down his life to protect it.  Why should what he does behind closed doors as an consenting adult be a reason to kick him out.   Anyone who thinks DADT is such a great idea but never wore the uniform and saluted the flag really needs to shut up instead of criticizing someone who has the courage they lack.

Welcome back Lt. Choi.

Lt. Choi back in the military. Somehow the Republic survives.

Saints Go Marching

No city ever needed a Super Bowl winner more than New Orleans

Too much food.  Too much drink.  Too much for Payton Manning to overcome.   The Super Bowl is too much of everything and that’s why we love it so.   It gives a whole new meaning to “wretched excess” but it’s a habit America shows no sign of kicking.

Watching a Super Bowl when there’s no vested interest in who wins or loses is unusual for me, but not wholly a bad thing.  What did I care if the Saints or the Colts won?  My team’s season ended over a month ago.

Contrary to my typically pro-Black sentiments, I wasn’t even pulling for Colts coach Jim Caldwell.   While I wouldn’t have been unhappy to see the brother hoist the Lombardi Trophy over his head, it didn’t bother me to watch Sean Payton have that privilege because New Orleans is a chocolate city.  Either way it was going to be a win-win situation.

Minus any emotional attachment all that was left was the game itself, the cavalcade of crappy commercials, the geezer rock n’ roll of The Who, and plenty of food and drink.   In other words the best of everything and way too much of it.

The Game: The first half was hardly super.  More like two heavyweights pawing, grappling and jabbing at each other probing for a weakness and looking for an opening.     Though Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are more than capable of winding it up and flinging the ball down the field into the arms of a wide receiver zipping down the field, neither one of them dialed one up choosing instead to throw underneath the coverage to running backs and the tight end.   As the first half closed with a 10-6 score, the Colts and Saints had  avoided the big turnover but they also avoided any real excitement.

The second half…ahhh, now that was a different story.  Coach Sean Payton called for an onside kick, the Saints recovered and the Colts were clearly stunned as the Saints went marching in for their first touchdown.  The teams began to swap scores and it was beginning to look like whoever had the ball last might win this thing.

The Who didn't die. They just got older than dirt.

But then Manning had a brain fart of Brett Favre proportions and threw an interception that Saints cornerback plucked from the air and took it back the other way for six while Manning, bowled over by a block during the return, could only look on helplessly as Porter sealed the game and the team from The Big Easy had won their first Super Bowl in the team’s history.

Final assessment:  Super Bowl XLIV captured the biggest viewing audience in television history.  Some 106 million people watched a game that I’d give an “A” for hype, but just a “B-” for excitement.   You can’t get much better than Santonio Holmes tip-toe catch to win last year’s Super Bowl and you sure didn’t have that kind of high drama  in this game.

It was a good, not great Super Bowl.   Now comes the long darkness where the NFL steps aside for the NBA and Major League Baseball.   No professional sports league has a longer off-season that the NFL which is why nobody anticipates a new season like pro football fans.

The Halftime: With The Who following such geezer acts as The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Prince, you kind of get the feeling the NFL is saying, “Don’t trust anyone under 50” when it comes to the halftime entertainment at The Super Bowl.    Roger Daltrey can’t scream as loud and long on “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but he’s still a great frontman with a helluva rock n’ roll voice.   Pete Townsend is still all arms and legs and one of the most overrated guitarists ever to pick one up, but he can write a good song.  Problem is he peaked on Who’s Next and it’s been downhill ever since.   The revelation was Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son, bashing the shit out of his drum kit.  He’s no Keith Moon, but he does have the advantage of not being dead.  As for the rest of the touring band—who cares?

The Commercials: Some solid laughs.  Some real clunkers.  Same as every year.   The Betty White and Abe Vigoda appearances in the Snickers ad made me forget how much I hate Snickers.  Loved the Doritos one with the little brother telling his mom’s date, “Keep your hands off my mom and off my Doritos.”  At least his priorities were in order.    Got a giggle from Tracy Morgan and Stevie Wonder showing up in one commercial though I’m damned if I can remember what it was selling.

"The Who is still together? I thought they were ALL dead."

Though the Career Builder “Casual  Friday gone too far” riff with a parade of pale White folks in their underwear was good, why CBS approved the Dockers ad with men parading around in their drawers as well was pure overkill.  In light of the controversy not to air a gay dating site ad, the message seems to be tighty whiteys and suggested nudity are fine for a family audience.  Two men kissing is out.

All n’ all, it was a good night spent with the family with plenty of food and drink on a cold February night.   We followed up The Super Bowl by watching The Hurt Locker, but I’ll get to that in another post.

And how was your Super Bowl Sunday?

Black History Month: Week One

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
— Michael Jordan

February 1 – The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, was adopted by the 38th Congress. Ratification was completed December 6, 1865. Also in 1870, Jonathan Jasper Wright was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

February 2 – Today in 1914, artist William Ellisworth is born in Washington, North Carolina. Educated at Syracuse University, he was a student of Florida artist Augusta Savage. His works were exhibited at Atlanta University, the Whitney Museum, the Two Centuries of Black American Art exhibit, Fisk University, Hampton University, the North Carolina Museum of Art and private collectors.

February 3 – Six time All-Star Bill White was named president of National League IN 1989. Former Saint Louis Cardinals first baseman Bill White is named president of the National League. He is the first African American to head a major sports league. On February 3, 1903; Jack Johnson became the first Negro Heavyweight Champion, The Negro Baseball League founded in 1920.

February 4 – Today in 1986, a stamp of Sojourner Truth is issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

February 5 – Henry “Home Run King” Aaron, baseball superstar was born in 1934.

February 6 – on this day in 1867,The Peabody Fund for Black education in the South established.

February 7 – Negro History week originated by Carter G.Woodson is observed for the first time in 1926.

Sojourner Truth and some White dude.

The Audacity of Obstruction.

Dick Shelby loves pork.  It's the other white meat.

Richard "Pork Barrel" Shelby loves the other white meat.

It sounds like a headline for The Onion:  “U.S. Senator Takes 70 Hostages.  Demands Billions for Release.”

It’s not.   What it is is Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) throwing his weight around and flipping the bird to The Obama Administration.

And why is the former Democrat-turned-Republican blocking 70 of President Obama’s appointees?  Because he can.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama’s nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:


– A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: “Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals.”


– An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: “[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won’t build” the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based “at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.”

Shelby’s hardball tactics came the same day as The Senate voted 94-2 to confirm President Obama’s choice to head up the General Services Administration almost 10 months after she was nominated. In Johnson’s case her nomination was held up by Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri) who wanted GSA adminstrators to approve a $175 million federal building project in Kansas City.

Quite tellingly, the vote came before Sen. Scott Brown was sworn in as the 41st Republican which will allow the minority party to substain filibusters.

Every politician can rationalize that they’re only interested in supporting the military and national defense when they’re bringing the bacon home, but let’s not get it twisted. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Blocking the President’s appointees because you want to make sure that the defense contractors back in Alabama are taken care of is bullshit.

Shelby has said himself that government can’t create jobs.

But he sure does like earmarks that funnel money into Alabama. He ranks right behind Robert Byrd in requesting earmarks (and Byrd is both old and sick) so Shelby could move up.

Why is he singing a different tune now and how does that justify blocking ALL of Obama’s nominees?

"Its simple, Barack: My pork for your appointees. Deal?"

The point isn’t about earmarks. Both parties have their share of pigs feeding at the government trough.  Both parties have held up presidential appointees.   Nobody is arguing this.

What the point is about is how can anyone  justify one Republican pinhead senator who puts his petty parochial priorities over that of the national interest?

The GOP can’t be the party of smaller government and fiscal responsibility on Monday and then on Tuesday stick their hands out screaming, “gimme, gimme, gimme.”

One Senator should not have the power to put the interests of his state over that of the national interest. This isn’t hardball politics. It’s extortion.   I’m not offended by Shelby’s actions as a Democrat or a liberal. I’m offended as a citizen who wants politicians to do their freaking jobs and stop with the the partisan games.

If Obama and the Democrats don’t make Shelby and his selfish stonewalling  the poster boy for Republican obstructionism, then they’re too incompetent to hold power.    Maybe the American people don’t understand the arcane rules of the Senate and all this talk about “legislative holds” and “cloture motions,” but they do recognize arrogance when they see it and nothing better illustrates how out of control the Republicans are than one jerk thinking he can blackmail the President of the United States to do his bidding.

It’s not Obama’s way to roll up his sleeves and go upside someone’s head–figuratively speaking, of course, but as long as the Republicans (and to a lesser extent other Democrats) believe there’s no price to pay by willfully defying this President, the more crap Obama is going to get from them.

So much for Obama inviting the Republicans to join in on the business of governing. Obstruction is so much easier. Especially when you’re trying to bring the pork back to the folks at home.

The Grammys and all that jazz.

Nice stunt, Pink, but what's it got to do with music?

I used to play DJ for parties.  I’ve reviewed music since I was in college.  When I moved into my house the biggest and heaviest item I had was my record (yes, vinyl records) collection and I’ve interviewed a lot jazz artists over the course of my writing career.  So when  I was asked what I thought about The Grammy Awards all I had was a blank look.

Yes, I do love music.   The Grammy Awards are about entertainment.   They aren’t about music.

I don’t watch the Grammys.  I don’t care who wins the Grammys.   Is Sade showing up?  No?   Then I’m not interested.

Don’t care about the winners.  Don’t care about the losers.   Just don’t care.

In the immortal words of Public Enemy, Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?

The Grammys aren’t about music.   It’s about dressing up and being seen and pairing hot new kids with grizzled old vets even with the duets make no damn sense.    I’m told the highlight I missed out on was Pink singing “Glitter in the Air”  as she’s suspended in upside down in the air and doused with water.   I’ve since caught the video and it’s a cool stunt, but what if anything does it have to do wit music.   Was this Pink public try out for for Cirque Du Soleil or something?

One of my Facebook friends , a member of a well-known vocal group best described the spectacle of the Grammy Awards by asking,  “Do we have to climb on a rope and twirl around while singing Miles Davis??? I’m just asking!”

Jazz doesn’t fare very well at these award shows.   Yeah, Herbie Hancock cleaned up last year with his tribute to Joni Mitchell album, but typically jazz artists aren’t part of the television broadcast and barely get a mention.  The late Joe Zawinul won for the album 75, an album I enjoyed but wasn’t my choice for the best jazz release of the 2009.

My choice was a an album that didn’t even get a  nomination.   Jazz in the Garden by The Stanley Clarke Trio was my favorite contemporary jazz album of 2009.   Here’s what I had to say about it for All About Jazz.com.

Is there a more prodigiously talented, but more annoyingly inconsistent artist than Stanley Clarke? A trip through the Clarke catalog reveals some brilliant masterpieces, many that are merely okay and a few that are bona fide turkeys. Doing things with an electric bass that no one else can, it’s precisely because he is so good that he has to keep restlessly experimenting to prevent becoming bored.

Rather than being bored on Jazz in the Garden, Clarke is at the top of his game. Reunited with Return to Forever compatriot/drummer Lenny White, Clarke sounds invigorated as he steps away from the electric excursions that made him the gold standard for awe-struck admirers, going unplugged for a joyous return to acoustic bass.

Clarke can call on just about any pianist in the world to join his trio, but chose Japanese-born and Berklee-trained Hiromi Uehara to tickle the ivories. Those who have followed the growth of her career will know Hiromi is an unexpected but completely appropriate choice for the trio. No junior member, she more than holds her own with her two veteran partners.

Taking the rhythm section from one of the premier bands of jazz-fusion and pairing it with Hiromi–a hard-charger head-turner capable of straight-ahead, hard bop and wildly avant-garde with equal aplomb–suggests there’s going to be fireworks. There are, but the simultaneous blend of traditional and modernistic is completely unexpected.

“Paradigm Shift (Election Day 2008)” is a shout-out to Barack Obama’s victory. It may sound as though Clarke is playing electric bass at times, but he’s not cheating. He’s just so good that he’s able to squeeze sounds from an acoustic bass that sound electric.

Hiromi contributes two originals–the beautiful “Sicilian Blue” and boppish “Brain Training,” where White rides the cymbals while Clarke riffs along underneath her swinging piano. “Sakura Sakura” is a traditional Japanese ballad that gets an interesting rework.

“Global Tweak” is an improvised duet between Clarke and Hiromi and, despite their differences in age, culture (and height!), the artificial differences are swept away by two talented musicians just jamming and going where the music takes them.

Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane” features White’s drums splashing and banging brightly. Equally impressive is Joe Henderson’s “Isotope,” Clarke’s tribute to his old employer and Miles Davis’ “Solar.” Hiromi’s playing on Clarke’s “3 Wrong Notes” makes clear that she’s one of the most interesting young lions in jazz today.

What’s a Red Hot Chili Peppers song doing on an acoustic jazz trio boasting compositions by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Joe Henderson? Fitting in quite nicely, courtesy of Hiromi’s rearrangement. Like Clarke, Hiromi isn’t easily pigeonholed into tidy categories, and has reworked rock ‘n’ roll into jazz motifs before with Jeff Beck’s “Led Boots” on Beyond Standard (Telarc, 2008).

Jazz in the Garden is an unexpected surprise that makes for superb listening. It is highly recommended, both for Clarke fans and those looking for a reason to become one.

The Stanley Clarke Trio at work, but getting no play.

I hope no one thinks this is a middle-age man ranting about  Lady GaGa, Taylor Swift or Beyonce not being as good as the music acts I grew up with.   I recognize the Grammys celebrate what’s popular.   That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be good—and it never was about what’s good.  One-and-done hit wonders like Milli Friggin’ Vanilli got nominated and The Starland Vocal Band walked away with a Best New Artist award, so who associates the Grammys with long, distinguished careers or actual talent?  Not me.

Jazz accounts for a tiny part of  music industry sales.  Jazz artists play clubs, not stadiums.  When Quincy Jones decides it’s time to record a new version of “We Are the World” he invites Taylor Swift and Lil’ Wayne, not George Duke and Branford Marsalis.    You don’t get more steeped in jazz than “Q” but he knows when you want to sell something you keep jazz far, far away from the proceedings.

If someone finds the Grammys a fun time, I’m cool with it.   Just don’t try to sell me on the idea that they mean a damn thing because they don’t.

Miramax Fades to Black.

"WHAT. DOES. HARVEY. WEINSTEIN. LOOK. LIKE?"

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to note the passing of an giant of the entertainment industry.  Like so many who die too soon and too young, the full impact of their death cannot be immediately measured.

Miramax Films died January 27, 2010.  The film company named by Harvey and Bob Weinstein after their parents, Miriam and Max, was laid to rest by it’s new owners/masters, The Disney Company after a long illness.  Miramax was 31 years old.

Whether or not you know it or not, you probably enjoyed at least one Miramax film.

A lot of people didn’t like Harvey Weinstein, the mastermind behind Miramax, but  his films were both popular and made lots of money.  Don’t believe me.  Try this list on for size:   No Country For Old Men,  Pulp Fiction, Clerks,  The Piano, The English Patient, There Will Be Blood, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Chicago, The Queen, Reservoir Dogs, Trainspotting, The Crying Game, Sling Blade, Shakespeare In Love and My Left Foot.   My favorite film of the last decade, City of God, was a Miramax import.  Once upon a time the Weinstein Brothers built the little art house that could and it went on to become the darling of  the “best of” list of critics everywhere and collect Academy Awards by the bus load.

Which doesn’t mean it was all about art.  Miramax also released such cheesy classics as Hellraiser: Bloodline and Pokemon 4Ever.

You can credit or blame the Weinsteins for kick starting the careers of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith or travesties such as Shakespeare In Love beating out Saving Private Ryan for the Best Picture Oscar.  Smith, a guy who got lucky with an over glorified student film, Clerks, blogged a brief condolence for the end of Miramax films:

I was never a brand-name whore in my life, except when it came to indie film. And from the moment I knew I wanted to be in film, there was one label I wanted on my ass: Miramax…I’m crushed to see it pass into history, because I owe everything I have to Miramax.  Without them, I’d still be a New Jersey convenience store register jockey. In practice, not just in my head.


What killed Miramax?  Oh, the usual things.  Ego, greed, hubris, and  a lot of lousy movies nobody went to see like the 2009 releases of Everybody’s Fine, The Boys Are Back, and Extract that played to empty theaters and hastened the end of the company.   Mostly it was Diseny’s disinterest in the kind of smaller, character-driven films that won Miramax both acclaim and notoriety.   The Weinsteins sold Miramax to Disney for $70 million and after disputes with Disney CEO Michael Eisner over economic and creative control issues, the due bailed to start The Weinstein Company which has not been able to repeat the success of Miramax.

Every film studio releases its share of dogs and Miramax produced their share, but taken as a whole, there’s a body of work there that we won’t soon see repeated in a Hollywood that celebrates cash cow sequels and reboots over edgy, original and risk-taking films.

In lieu of flowers, friends should watch a Quentin Tarantino movie instead.